I love a good prologue, especially in young adult adventure novels. It sets my imagination whirring, questions sprouting and I know I have to read on to find the answers. This is exactly what happened with the prologue in Tethers. Why won’t Marriot’s gun work? Who is this mysterious, snarling Mr Dufor? What are Locus One and Locus Three? Who is ‘the girl’ and most importantly, will Mr Dufor murder her?

Predictably, after scooping my ponderings into my arms and curling up so I could pin them to my chest with my knees, I read on as fast I could. Then I realised I wasn’t taking enough in so stopped, drank some tea, grabbed a biscuit and started again.

Tethers is very easy to read, it is well written and paragraphs glide by smoothly. The two main characters are engaging from the start; you recogniseKarl as an adventurous young man with a slight disregard for rules, and Esther is immediately likeable with her ‘scorched-black hair’ and skill for arguing. The tranquil start to their adventure is shaped by descriptions of the sleepy village of Shraye in Victorian Lincolnshire. Croxall definitely has a knack for recreating those rural scenes and grand skies that, coming from Lincolnshire myself, I recognise appreciatively. The story then accelerates in an almost alarming manner as Karl and Esther are suddenly thrown in the path of danger, but the pace slows almost as rapidly as it sped up while they decide their course of action. I liked this unexpected change of step as it gave the story a sense of realism and provided Croxall with the opportunity to develop his characters further. It also meant that when the next dramatic event revealed itself it still felt shocking and exciting, but the structure wasn’t choppy or awkward. I found this wave-like pattern of thrills and calm, which continued throughout the book, reassuring. It gave me time to get to know the characters, to revel in their stories and personalities but never get too comfortable, as I knew something exciting would be waiting on the next page.

Being set in Victorian England gives this book a historical gleam, but its true colours lie more in adventure. As a science writer, Croxall does have a clear science fiction leaning, and the mysteries of the otherworldly stone, the Viniculum, that is found by Karl and Esther certainly have answers buried in science. However, this is not the selling point for me with Tethers. I found the most compelling aspects to be in the characters, their decisions and their motivations. It was this that created the drama for me, more so than the dangerous conspiracy right at the novel’s core. Perhaps, however, I have just tapped into the essence of why this book is calledTethers. Normal peoples’ actions, the consequences of those actions and what tethers everything together can be incredibly powerful. Alas, I’m being mysterious myself now as I don’t want to give too much away, you will have to read it to know what I mean.

 However, as much as I loved this aspect of the book, I also felt it was its only flaw. So important are the characters in this book that I wanted more from Croxall about who these people were and how they all became involved in this story. An almost impossible thing to do I grant you, byspending more time and words on character detail you run the risk of losing pace, excitement and of making the text too heavy. But I felt with Croxall’s writing everything I wanted was there in his head, it was there in his style and in ideas but was just missing from the paper. He knows the secrets in the lives of his characters and they are hinted at but never given away. Perhaps I am being too impatient and all I want will be revealed in the next two books in the trilogy, but it does make it impossible for Tethers to stand alone successfully for me. Certainly Croxall has confessed that Karl and Esther will return with new friends and old for more adventure so I will hope that I will find answers hidden in their pages.

I would definitely recommend Tethers to any fans of Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials, or Percy Jackson lovers. You are quickly sucked into the adventure, friendship and mystery encapsulated in this book and Croxall’s skill as a writer means he is certainly one to watch for the future. 

 @JackCroxall and blogs at www.jackcroxall.co.uk 

Tethers Kindle edition is available on Amazon


On the Back of the Book

In the wake of a cold Victorian winter, Karl Scheffer and Esther Emerson discover an anonymous journal filled with strange passages and bizarre scribblings.

The journal soon draws them into a covert and sinister conspiracy, a conspiracy centred around an otherworldly artefact with the power to change everything …

Karl and Esther have spent almost every day of their thirteen years in the quiet market town of Shraye. Stifled by their rural surroundings and frustrated by their unfulfilled ambitions, they find the allure of the journal’s mysterious pages impossible to ignore. The book seems to be beckoning them away from Shraye, away from their homes and towards the coast where an unsolved disappearance has set in motion a dark chain of events.

The voyage the teenagers soon find themselves undertaking is one of desperate importance and true peril; it will change the way they see the world, and each other, forever.

Pre Read Thoughts

I’m choosing this because:

This is another book that I’m reading because I was approached by the author. This book excited me because it’s set in one of my top three historical eras (My favourites just in case you’re interested are Victorian, Roman and I like the WW2 era. There’s just something about the way we banded together as a country.) Not only that, it manages to be one of my favourite genres too (fantasy, I like imagining things.). So before I’ve even turned a page we’re on to a bit of a winner. This is another book with a male protagonist and as we know, I like this because I get bored of whiny girls hiding behind their eternal love and hoping the world allows them to be together forever. The Goodreads book description really appeals to me and I really hope what’s in the book is just as good.

Judging a book by its cover:

I actually really like the cover of Tethers. The blues and purples blend together perfectly and making the focus of the cover the purple stone. (Well, I put jewel in my initial draft of this review. Stone fits better though.) Either way, it’s intriguing and it makes me wonder about its importance to the story. Now on to the font... oh I think I’m in love with it to be perfectly honest! It’s so pretty without being over the top. It’s so beautiful and it manages to compliment the rest of the cover without overpowering it. I want that font!!! Anyway... back to the review, the simplicity of the cover is what makes it stand out. My magpie instinct has kicked in, this is the kind of cover I’d spend hours stroking in the shop.

Pricing the (possible) awesomeness:

So this is available in eBook form only and is very reasonably priced at £1.85 on Amazon. However, if you’re a Prime member you can borrow it for free!!! Then once you’ve enjoyed it you can buy it... and the rest of the trilogy.

Post Read Thoughts

I have to say this is another book that I thoroughly enjoyed. The story draws you in with beautiful description and a sidekick that shines so bright that I had to reach for my sunglasses! Did I mention how much I love the Victorian era and that made me love getting to create images of old fashioned scenes (although, I did miss making everyone drive Lamborghinis.). The writing made me want to read as much as possible and I would’ve finished this quicker but I had to turn into a gardening goddess for my mum and do her shopping. (It takes a lot of time being a good daughter you know!) I really did find this to be an enjoyable experience that I think everyone needs to experience.

Karl – He’s our main character and while I did like him there were definitely other characters that I liked more *cough* Esther *cough*. A comment about his eyes early on in the book made me think about another book I just read ‘Sky Song’ by Sharon Sant which also features an MC with unusual eyes. (Maybe they were psychically linked while MC planning!) A part of me wanted to see him getting a bit more stuck into the action in ways that weren’t accidental, however I did like that he wasn’t hands on. It set him apart from other heroes.

Esther – She’s easily my favourite character, she’s courage and awesomeness all rolled into a Victorian 13 year old!  She’s nothing like the damsels in distress that grace far too many book and I appreciated that. More than I can ever tell you. I do wonder what the book would’ve been like from her POV... or maybe a split POV. I think Esther needs to be heard!! Anyway, I loved her fearlessness, it makes me want to be her best friend... actually she’s only 13; I’ll be her big sister instead.

Mr Cauldwell – He’s an interesting character it has to be said, but of the characters featured throughout the story he’s my least favourite. I believe that he genuinely cares about Karl and Esther but I feel like I want to know more about him. He’s a character that we never really got to meet even though he’s there a lot.

Harland – I adored Harland. He really inspired and helped Esther and a guy that can do that is alright as far as I’m concerned. He had contacts that really helped to push the story forward and make their journey feel like it had an end destination. I appreciated him. Go Harland!!

Overall this is a wonderful read and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I say this but there are definitely things I’d have done differently but I appreciate what Jack did with the characters and the story and it’s a testament to the quality of the story when you want to change things but still love how they are. The book managed to keep me occupied for long periods, which is a bit of a miracle considering my attention span, and was easy to read and wasn’t littered with the errors that indie authors so often seem to miss. It did exactly what a book is supposed to do and let me tell you it did it well! That ending! Eurgh! I hate cliffhangers! Especially awesome ones!! Gimme Tethers 2!!!

My Rating

4.5 Stars – I went through the motions rating this. I was like 4??? No it’s worth more 5??? I don’t know!!! I rarely give 5!!!  So at the moment we’re at 4.5 but I’m looking at that 5 and thinking yes! Okay:  

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